Photo: Hyosub Shin (AJC)

FCS Football Recap: Week 0 Takeaways

The FCS football season kicked off on Saturday with three Week 0 games. Two teams ranked in the Preseason Bluebloods Top-25 started the 2023 season with victories, including No. 19 Mercer and No. 21 Jackson State. 

We recap all the FCS football action from Week 0 below.

UAlbany 34, Fordham 13

The UAlbany defense stole the show on Saturday as the Great Danes held Fordham to only 235 yards of total offense. Linebacker Dylan Kelly led the Great Danes with 12 tackles, two tackles for loss, and two sacks. The defensive line was unblockable as Anton Juncaj and AJ Simon combined for 10 tackles, seven tackles for loss, and six sacks. Fordham struggled to run the football as the Rams finished the game averaging only 1.2 yards per carry. 

On the offensive side of the ball, Reese Poffenbarger was locked in as the sophomore finished with 253 passing yards, four passing touchdowns, and 47 rushing yards. Wide receiver Roy Alexander emerged as the No. 1 target with six receptions for 58 yards and two touchdowns. The Great Danes were efficient on 3rd down, converting on nine of their 16 attempts on the night. 

C.J. Montes stepped into the starting quarterback role, finishing the game with 198 passing yards and one touchdown. The Rams allowed eight sacks and struggled to control the line of scrimmage throughout the game. Running back Julius Loughridge led the Rams with 48 rushing yards, while wide receiver MJ Wright recorded six receptions for 61 receiving yards. 

No. 19 Mercer 17, North Alabama 7

Mercer entered the game with high expectations but underwhelmed in a 10-point win over the Lions. The offense totaled only 285 yards and failed to generate any explosive plays. The play-calling was suspect throughout the game as the Bears only attempted 17 passes and ran the ball for 170 yards on 53 attempts (3.2 yards per carry). Wide receiver Ty James shined in his limited opportunities (Four catches for 57 yards & one touchdown), but the Bears’ playcalling was extremely vanilla throughout the game.

Linebacker Isaac Dowling was named the game’s most valuable player after totaling 10 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and 0.5 sacks. Running back Micah Bell led the Bears with 73 rushing yards and one touchdown. Quarterback Carter Peevy finished the game with 115 passing yards, 31 rushing yards, and one touchdown. 

North Alabama had multiple chances to win this game, including two crucial missed field goals. The NCAA also needs to take a long look at the muffed punt rule because it cost the Lions a touchdown early in this game. The Lions finished the game with 156 rushing yards and one touchdown, led by Jalyn Daniels with 49 rushing yards. Defensive back Edwin Schultz-White led the Lions with 14 tackles, one tackle for loss, and one forced fumble.

No. 21 Jackson State 37, South Carolina State 7

It was pure domination for the Tigers on Saturday night as T.C. Taylor made a statement in his first career game as head coach. The Jackson State defense smothered the Bulldogs, only allowing 201 total yards and a late touchdown with 22 seconds left. Quarterback Jason Brown finished the game with 361 passing yards, three touchdowns, and completed 78.7% of his passes. Wofford transfer Irv Mulligan led the Tigers with 109 rushing yards and one touchdown. 

Jackson State controlled the line of scrimmage behind Jeremiah Williams and DeVonta Davis. Arkansas Pine-Bluff transfer Isaac Peppers and Delaware State transfer Esaias Guthrie were two of the standouts on the defensive side of the ball. The Tigers were led by wide receiver Rico Powers with four receptions for 95 receiving yards, while Duke Miller finished the game with eight receptions for 57 receiving yards. 

South Carolina State’s offense struggled all night as the Bulldogs finished with only 63 passing yards and averaged 2.7 yards per completion. Tight end KeShawn Toney led the Bulldogs with three receptions for 41 receiving yards and one touchdown. The rushing attack was the only bright spot for the Bulldogs after totaling 138 yards and averaging 4.1 yards per carry, led by Jawarn Howell with 49 rushing yards.

Notable Week 1 GamesNo. 4 William & Mary @ Campbell, Eastern Washington vs. No. 3 North Dakota State, Utah Tech @ No. 2 Montana State, No. 21 Jackson State vs. No. 24 Florida A&M, Austin Peay @ Southern Illinois, Southern @ Alabama State, Northern Colorado @ Abilene Christian, No. 11 Sacramento State @ Nicholls State, Prairie View A&M @ Texas Southern

LATEST: Week 0 FCS Football Preview & Predictions

Follow @The Bluebloods on Twitter for ongoing coverage of FCS football news, notes, and opinions. You can also follow Zach McKinnell on Twitter @zachmckinnell

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